Not so fast: Health care needs reform before marijuana is legalized, says U of A professor

Alberta needs to better prepare its health care system for marijuana legalization, an academic told a Calgary seminar on the watershed drug reforms said Friday.

While Cam Wild praised Ottawa’s approach to legalizing the recreational use of the drug, he said the province has considerable work to do in the medical field to ensure the move’s success.

A priority should be dedicating tax revenues raised from pot sales to mental health and addictions programs, rather than putting them into general revenues, said Wild, of the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health.

That’s the policy followed by states that have legalized recreational pot, such as California, Washington and Oregon, he said.

“That concept is foreign to us,” he said.

He noted in 2015-16 that Alberta took slightly more than $3 billion in sin taxes  — from tobacco, alcohol and gambling — compared to $2.8 billion from non-renewable resources.

“Look at the...

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